Over the past couple of months, I’ve begun to write articles about the practical application of Python and data science in an SEO context. Why? Because I realized that as a community, we spend a lot of our time trying to guess where pages will rank, our work takes forever to yield results, and sadly...READ POST
Editor’s Note: Cole-Parmer is a leading scientific and industrial equipment B2B manufacturer and supplier. In March 2017, the company brought in Emilie Babicz as its first in-house SEO expert. In collaboration with RankSense, Emilie has helped to optimize thousands of product and item pages for better quality views and revenue streams.
SEO and business optimization
Before Cole-Parmer, I had over 10 years of in-house and agency experience with SEO. When I came to the company, they had just re-launched their website, and there were a litany of technical changes that had been made, including a move to HTTPS, an overhaul to the look and feel of the site, and several major consolidations of page categories. As the first dedicated SEO person at Cole-Parmer, I worked closely with RankSense’s Luc and Maura to optimize the product and item pages, which at the time, had generic descriptions. This project was–and is–an ongoing collaborative effort. Together, we’ve been able to test ideas that ultimately allow us to achieve Cole-Parmer’s business goals. RankSense has helped me and my team fill in the gaps that we simply do not have the time or manpower to do on our own.
More products, more problems
One of the challenges of a company like ours that offers thousands of products is that its item descriptions can appear broad or even obtuse to the average user in search engine results. When potential customers are searching in Google for say, a peristaltic pump, they need to be able to see that Cole-Parmer offers premier products under the umbrella of this item description. However, given the sheer size of our catalog (70,000-80,000 products), there was no consistent and enticing way to describe our items in a search besides manually writing each one and testing that language. As an SEO expert, I had ideas about the type of language to use, but I did not have the ability to test these ideas in a scientific, analytical way.
The team at RankSense had the idea of using different templates to A/B test the most effective SEO language for click-through rates. They A/B tested the language for meta descriptions using variations of SEO templates. We decided to include quotes from favorable user reviews within the meta descriptions. After roughly 8 weeks of compiling data on various items, they found the winning formula to be the item name, followed by a quote from a 4 or 5-star review under 80 characters, and “Shop now at Cole-Parmer!” For instance, a snippet for 1 mL vials would read:
1 mL vials for Waters 48-position autosamplers, clear glass with SepCap™ closure. “I would buy this product again and again.” Shop now at Cole-Parmer!
Below is a graph of the A/B test results. As evident in the final graph, there was a significant shift in the predicted variable (“new users”). In other words, the data suggests positive results over time for the item pages that used this formula.
On my end, I looked at the revenue and transactions that resulted from these page views. I monitored conversion rate, monthly traffic, quality traffic, bounce rate, etc. Over time, I saw a significant increase in revenue and transactions once we implemented this SEO template on the site.
The results were beyond my expectations. The graph below shows the gain in the conversion rate for the test group pages.
Digging deeper into the data
Because RankSense was so thorough and exhaustive in their data analysis, I was better able to analyze the data on my end to find nuances that optimized our pages further. For instance, we discovered that specifically featuring language in the snippets that touted Cole-Parmer’s expert service garnered us the most quality click-through rates. As an example, one of the most successful A/B tests we performed used the quote “Best Service Experience Ever!” pulled from our website reviews. Referencing our company’s dedication to service is what made these items stand out to customers, even though the description of the item was not specific to that item per se.
In featuring Cole-Parmer’s service in the descriptions, we were able to integrate the sales goals of the site with the mission statement of our company. By embedding our commitment to dedicated customer service within the descriptions of the quality instruments we sell, the search results were telling the customer to choose us for more than just the product.
The power of partnership
The challenge for me when I started at Cole-Parmer was how to write customized, compelling product descriptions that actually resulted in returns on transactions and revenue. With RankSense’s help, I was able to get creative with their data to then leverage the reviews within our site. I did not have the bandwidth on my end to scrape all the pages and source this data–RankSense made that possible. Their analysis and reports allowed me to be more innovative on my end. I value their partnership because our collaboration is built on the experimentation and testing necessary to push a business beyond its current performance levels.